UPMC study finds merit in giving antibodies via injection during COVID-19 surges

While administering monoclonal antibodies via intravenous infusion is standard practice to prevent severe hospitalization and death in outpatients with COVID-19, new research from UPMC shows giving the drug via four injections under the skin may be just as effective.

The findings suggest that healthcare providers can revert to faster subcutaneous injections instead of longer infusions if needed during COVID-19 surges. Researchers published the results in the medical preprint server medRxiv ahead of peer-reviewed publication to inform healthcare providers on best practices amid the delta surge.

UPMC said it began administering some monoclonal antibody treatments through injections about three months ago to help meet demand. The injections are quicker to administer and can be given by more types of staff than infusions, which allowed UPMC to more than double outpatient appointments for antibodies, lead author Erin McCreary, PharmD, an infectious diseases pharmacist at UPMC, said in a Dec. 2 news release. 

Researchers tracked the outcomes of 2,185 patients who received Regeneron's antibody therapy via subcutaneous or intravenous administration between July 14 and October 26. The 28-day hospitalization rate for patients who received the therapy via infusion was 1.7 compared to 2.8 percent for those who received the drug via injections. Researchers found similar results when comparing risk of death. 

Giving antibodies via injections was also associated with an estimated 56 percent lower risk of hospitalization or death within 28 days compared to no monoclonal antibody treatment, according to senior author Kevin Kip, PhD, vice president of clinical analytics at UPMC.

"Looking at these real-world results, I would confidently recommend that any healthcare provider struggling to provide casirivimab and imdevimab infusions in a timely manner switch to subcutaneous injections rather than turn patients away," Dr. Kip said in the release.


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